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Do climatically similar regions contain similar alien floras? A comparison between the mediterranean areas of central Chile and California

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Abstract Aim 

Taxonomic comparisons of alien floras across climatically similar regions have been proposed as a powerful approach for increasing our understanding of plant invasions across scales. However, detailed comparisons between the alien biotas of climatically similar regions are scarce. This study aims to compare the taxonomic patterns of alien species richness in mediterranean-type climate areas of central Chile and California, in order to better understand how climatically similar regions converge or diverge in terms of their alien flora. Location 

Central Chile and California, United States. Methods 

We compared the alien floras of the state of California in the United States and central Chile, considering within-region variation and taxonomic composition up to the species level. To test for within-region variation, administrative units and counties were grouped within seven latitudinal bands for each region. We tested for differences in the relative contributions of the various origins of the naturalized species to each region. We used a family naturalization index to establish which families had relatively higher numbers of naturalized species in each region. We evaluated the similarity, using cluster analyses with Jaccard’s similarity index, of alien taxa between regions and latitudinal bands using presence–absence matrices at the species, genus and family levels. We used principal components analysis to determine the presence of a compositional gradient including all latitudinal bands. Results 

We recorded 1212 alien plant species in California and 593 in central Chile, of which 491 are shared between the two regions. These figures include 25 species that are native to California and 37 that are native to Chile. A comparison between the alien floras of central Chile and California reveals three major trends: (1) higher naturalized species diversity for California than for Chile, at all taxonomic levels; (2) differences in the proportion of species according to origin, with America, Africa, Asia and Australia providing a larger number of species in California than in Chile; (3) segregation between regions in terms of taxonomic composition of their alien flora, and a rather weak differentiation within regions; and (4) a trend towards higher similarity between the alien floras of latitudinal bands associated with higher levels of human disturbances. Main conclusions 

The alien floras of central Chile and California are significantly different, but this difference diminishes in highly disturbed areas. Thus, the current high levels of species movement caused by globalization, together with increasing levels of anthropogenic disturbances, should reduce the differentiation of the alien floras in these regions, increasing overall biotic homogenization.
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Keywords: Biotic homogenization; comparative ecology; exotic plant species; latitudinal gradient; naturalized flora; non-native species; taxonomic comparison

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Departamento de Botánica, Facultad de Ciencias Naturales y Oceanográficas, Universidad de Concepción, Chile

Publication date: 01 April 2008

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